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Re: forwarded message from Jeff Licquia

On Jul 19, Boris Veytsman wrote:
> The problem is, the first paragraph quoted above is not true. There
> are precedents when people changed important parts of TeX and LaTeX
> and distributed these changed files without clearly labeling them as
> such. AFAIK, there were only good intentions on the part of the
> perpetrators, but the damage was real. LPPL was crafted to prevent
> these things to happen again.

How does the LPPL actually prevent a distributor from FUBARing their
distribution of LaTeX?  The fact is people regularly ignore licenses,
copyrights, patents and trademarks (if this weren't the case, there'd
be almost no GIFs or MP3s in the world).

To put it another way: If you don't trust people to do the right
thing, no license will help you.

> So, you are defending abstract principles against a very unlikely
> danger. LaTeX people see a real danger in changing their way. What is
> a pure abstraction for you (most of the people on debian-legal
> probably never used LaTeX in their everyday work) is an important
> issue for them -- and for us, end users.

I *do* use LaTeX in my every day work.  I also recognize that someone
might want to make a derived work of LaTeX (say "MyLaTeX") without
having to engage in unreasonable amounts of bookkeeping or bizarre
filename hacks (i.e. without recoding the parser to add "my" to the
beginning of every package that is \usepackage{}d since they had to
rename every single file in the distribution that they touched) and
without breaking compatibility with their own source files (i.e. so
they can run mylatex blah.tex where blah.tex is valid input to latex).

In fact, pdflatex depends on this very ability, but since the LPPL
only trusts the anointed of the LaTeX3 Project to do this in a trivial
manner, I couldn't make a tifflatex or pcllatex without going through
silly bureaucracy (renaming files, hacking macros to search for my
modified versions of .cls and .sty files with messed up names, etc.)
that Frank doesn't have to engage in.

Having said that, I'd be pissed if typing "latex myfile.tex" was
arbitrarily different from system to system.  But again, if you
require modified versions of LaTeX to not be called LaTeX and not be
invoked by typing "latex", this surprise problem goes away.  So,
again, the IMHO reasonable thing to say is:

1. latex should always refer to unmodified LaTeX as distributed by LaTeX3

2. If you modify any part of LaTeX, you must either:
 a. call the entire derived work something other than LaTeX, and
    invoke it with something other than "latex", or
 b. distribute modified files within LaTeX under different names, and
    include unmodified versions of those files.

Note the word "or" there.  If the derived work is bobslatex or
rubberfetish or whatever you want to call it, 2(b) goes away because
the derived work no longer calls itself LaTeX and is not expected to
behave like standard LaTeX.  However, if you represent your derived
work as being standard LaTeX (by calling it LaTeX), the behavior
should be consistent with standard LaTeX for all macro packages
defined in standard LaTeX.

Chris Lawrence <cnlawren@olemiss.edu> - http://www.lordsutch.com/chris/

Instructor and Ph.D. Candidate, Political Science, Univ. of Mississippi
208 Deupree Hall - 662-915-5765

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